This post is more than a little late, for reasons that you’ll discover when I talk about Day 3. Let’s just say that typing was a a bit challenging for a period. But I digress. Let’s dive headlong into the “OK, this is real mountain biking” experience that was Day 2 of the Revelstoke 3-Day Enduro race. (You can also skip to the Stage Summaries and the overall Day 2 summary if you’d like.)
Day 2 started with a shuttle—the only free ride of the day. I think our raw hunger to ride made it hard to appreciate motoring to the top of the mountain, but pedaling up the first liason made sure we looked back with sincere thankfulness. The climb itself wasn’t so bad, it was the exhaustion from surviving the rides down the stages that reminded you this was a true enduro race.
Here’s a brief summary of each stage. Well, as much of a summary as my adrenaline-flooded racing brain can piece together. Since it was a blind race and Ted is aiming to run it again next year, I won’t mention the names of the trails (they are best discovered through personal experience, anyways). Oh, and you probably want to see the riding before you read about it…so here’s the video:
One new adjective we learned on this trip, at least as far as mountain biking goes, is “savage.” The locals seem to use the word to describe bits of trail that are universally agreed upon to be at the upper echelons of challenging, no matter the riders’ skill level. Stage 1 absolutely qualified as savage. The basic outline is incredibly steep, long, technical chutes dumping into flat, moon-dust turns without enough moderate grade between big features to let your arms rest. Repeat that 10 or 20 times and gradually increase how steep the chutes are and you’ll have a good idea of this trail.
Bear made it down clean and I had one slide-out, but Cam dropped his chain and went down twice—not the best way to start the day for him. Either way, when we got to the bottom, we were all buzzing from the insanity we’d just survived. It was going to be a good day.
After a healthy stop at the aid station and a long climb back up to the top, we dropped into Stage 2. Slightly more forgiving, this section of trail was still steep and technical, but earned the words “more flowy” in its description because there were berms to hit at the bottom of big features, meaning you could let go of the brakes a bit without fear of certain death. The bottom-half of this stage had some nice, hand-built sections of trail, which included ladder bridges, table-tops and really nice turns.
Bear and I made it down this one clean, but Cam had bad luck again, flying off one of the ladder bridges—about 7 feet to flat—and taking a good tumble.
If ever I’ve felt like I forgot to ride a bike, it was during this stage. A non-scientific survey I performed at the finish line suggested unanimous agreement among the other riders. One of the shorter ones, this brutal mess of twisted singletrack fell straight down the side of a mountain in an unending series of steep, off-camber, moon-dusted-laiden switchbacks. Try as we might to stay upright, most riders got swallowed up somwehere along the line, wearing their failures proudly in the color dust as they rolled thankfully to the second timing chip. Almost every time, the immediate reaction after swiping their chips was a series of explitives, accompanied by huge grins and heaving breaths.
Other than a few really big, really steep features littered throughout, Stage 4 leaned slightly more on the “epic, yet fun” side of the scale, versus the emphasis on basic survival that seemed to be the theme of the first three outings of the day. Dropping through a few of what had become familiar, harrowing chutes rewarded you with fast, flowy single track that screamed through beautiful forest. This might have been the most pedall-y stage with a few fire-road sprints, but even those were somewhat of a reprieve from an otherwise supremely technical day.
Sadly, I flatted halfway through this stage. Because I had so far to go, I decided to ride it out, which meant that my sprints were twice as hard. I would have loved to have burned through the most fun section of the trail at the end, but alas, you have to take racing with the good and the bad.
Bear had a clean stage, but Cam had another mechanical and another big fall. It wasn’t turning out to be his day, but he kept his chin up and his pedals spinning.
Stage 5 is fuzziest in my memory, especially since I failed to start the GoPro at the beginning and can’t go back to review footage. I do remember that it was shorter stage that started out with a steep, nasty drop right at the beginning, then wound through the woods, alternating between fun features that were easy to ride fast and others that seemed to come out of nowhere and remind you to keep your eyes up and mind focused. One of my favorite parts was running a root-laiden ridgeline that rode and looked like the epitomy of British Columbia. In fact, even though the overall details are fuzzy, I specifically remember ripping down that ridgeline, looking around and being fully aware that I was in BC, soaking up every inch of incredible singletrack.
The final leg of the day was the least technical—a reward of sorts for surviving the first 5 challenges. This stage started out with huge, banking burms that you could absolutely rail if you took the right line and kept your eyes up. A few technical bits were followed by more fast-and-flowy singletrack that was just plain fun.
Day 2 Summary
Bear had the cleanest day, logging only one single crash on some of the most consistently technical terrain the Brothers had ever tackled. I had a few minor tumbles and a mechanical, but was really pleased with a decently solid day of riding. Cam had a rough one. He had big crashes on every stage and threw his chain several times. Needless to say, it was hard for him to balance the frustration inherent in a bad day of racing with his first full serving of raw British Columbia riding.
Even though our race runs ran the spectrum from good to bad, one thing was clear: Revelstoke had given us our first taste of a true, long and brutal enduro race on a proper track—and we loved every single second of it.
What’s more, we had the first indication that we’d proved the hypothesis we’d set out to test: could some Pisgah-raised, day-job amateurs from the Southeast hang with riders from around the world on the fabled testing grounds of British Columbia? At 22nd (Cam), 21st (Eric) and 17th (Bear), it seemed that the answer was yes. With one more day ahead, we were confident that we could hold on to the bars long enough to inch our way deeper into the top 20.
Really, though, with a heli drop looming on the morning horizon, results didn’t matter. Soaking in every bit of British Columbia we could was at the top of the priority list. And with that, the sound of imaginary chopper blades lulled us to sleep.